Public Outreach

The public outreach component of NCAR E&O includes the NCAR Explorer Series, engaging with the public at outreach events, creation of bilingual science material, collaboration with the UCAR Science Education team, and collaboration with various scientists and organizations.

Explorer Series Lecture and Events

The NCAR Explorer Series was initiated in 2016 to reach out to and inform the general public about research being conducted at NCAR and its impact to our society. The NCAR Explorer Series consists of quarterly lectures and events, and has expanded to include videos to highlight the Explorer Series speakers and NCAR supported field campaigns. The Explorer lectures have attracted hundreds of viewers from the Front Range area and received several thousand views on YouTube

This year, Explorer Series events reached more than 800 people in-person at the Mesa Lab. These events included:

  •  quarterly lectures

  • kid's science show with special guest Jo Hecker 

  • inaugural launch of the Paul Crutzen Lecture Series

The Explorer Series events engaged the general public with the science being conducted at NCAR that impact the communities we live in. Guests provided positive feedback:

"Great outreach to the community, thank you. Good balance between technical and understandable!"
"I really appreciate the events that engage children (especially girls) in getting excited about science. It helps to encourage them to go into the sciences."
“The Explorer Series is a wonderful opportunity for non-NCAR folks to hear about science topics. Thank you so very much for continuing them.” 

New Explorer Series Survey

The new survey that was created provides insight into the impact these lectures are having on our guests. Surveys indicate that we are reaching new guests, with more than half of attendees only attending science lectures 0-1 times. Guests are slightly familiar with these talks, and overall the lectures are increasing the interest of guests in the sciences and engineering fields/topics. Additionally, guests indicate that topics presented are important to society and agree that they’ve made a connection between the research and their lives. These lectures reach an almost equal audience of self-identified males to females. See the survey results below.   

Performance Measures:

During the fiscal year, 2019: 

  • A total of 815 people attended the Explorer Series events. 

  • The archived Explorer Series lectures have been viewed a total of 893 times.

  • A total of 4,894 people have viewed the nine (9) short Explorer Series videos that highlight NCAR scientists and highlight the science being conducted at various NCAR labs.

Outreach during NCAR Supported Field Campaigns

Successfully supported the RELAMPAGO and OTREC field campaigns through an Open House at each field campaign, outreach at various schools, the creation of educational and informative videos, and by engaging with the general public. Supported professional development workshops, mentoring and guidance for 20 graduate student participants during three weeks of the RELAMPAGO field campaign. Supported 4 undergraduate student participants in the field during OTREC field campaign, and one who is attending the Americal Meteorological Society meeting in January, 2020. The educational efforts during RELAMPAGO & OTREC meet the NCAR EO strategic goal #1: Inspire, engage, and inform the nation about the atmospheric sciences conducted by NCAR and the university community. The Advanced Studies Institute program during RELAMPAGO also meets the NCAR EO strategic goal #2: Entrain and prepare a highly skilled and diverse workforce for careers in the atmospheric and related sciences. 

RELAMPAGO (November 2018)

NCAR EO supported education and outreach efforts during the RELAMPAGO international field campaign in Argentina, including: bilingual (English/Spanish language) educational materials; outreach to the general public and at local schools; bilingual activities during the Open House; creation of bilingual educational videos; and recruitment of and leading workshops for twenty (20) graduate students in the very first Advanced Study Institute (ASI) during a scientific field campaign, in collaboration with Colorado State University from Oct 30, 2018 - Nov 18, 2018. 

Performance measures:

  • Reached more than 300 students along with parent chaperones from local schools during the RELAMPAGO Open House.

  • Reached about 400 students during educational visits to three (3) elementary schools in nearby areas to Cordoba, Argentina.

  • Videos have been viewed more than 9,000 times on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook.

  • Supported 20 graduate students in the field, field work, and through professional development workshops


  • A peer-reviewed article “Gargantuan Hail in Argentina” has been accepted with revisions to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS). 


OTREC (August -September 2019)

Science education and outreach efforts during the OTREC international field campaign in Costa Rica, included the following: bilingual (English/Spanish language) educational materials; outreach to the general public and at local schools; organization of and presentations during the aircraft Open House; creation of bilingual educational videos; recruitment of and support for four (4) undergraduate student to participate in a scientific field campaign for two weeks each, in collaboration with New Mexico Tech from Aug 5, 2019 – September 30, 2019; support for one student to attend a national conference; and creation of a webpage and social media content for the field campaign. On-site outreach through NCAR EO took place in Santa Cruz, Costa Rica, and in Liberia, Costa Rica from August 18 – 31, 2019, with student participation from August 5 – 30, 2019. One student will attend the American Meteorological Society student conference and annual meeting from January 10 – 17, 2020 to present her work and experience as a participant of OTREC. Find out more about OTREC:

Performance measures:

  • Hosted four (4) school groups during the Open House, for a total of 80 students and 20 parent chaperones. Included 2 elementary schools + parents, 1 high school, 1 university.

  • Reached about 150 students at one elementary school during an educational school visit while in Costa Rica. 

  • Successfully supported four (4) undergraduate students to participate in the field campaign for 2-weeks each. 

NCAR Explorer Series Videos

Short videos of the Explorer lecture speakers were created and shared via social media, receiving more than 4,500 views on Social Media channels like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram. All short videos and archived lectures can be found on our NCAR Explorer Series website,or on the Explorer Series YouTube playlist


As part of NCAR reinvestment funds, eight (8) bilingual (English/Spanish) educational videos have been created for RELAMPAGO, and can be seen in the NCAR Explorer Series field campaign page: These bilingual videos offer an inside look at the science, people, outreach, and technology utilized during the field campaign. The videos also highlight the diversity of skills, people (e.g. students, scientists, technicians, pilots) and careers necessary fora field campaign such as RELAMPAGO to occur. In collaboration with UCAR SciEd, teaching guides will be developed for use in the classroom. Additionally, the videos have the potential to increase the interest of students to pursue fields in the atmospheric and related sciences. The outreach efforts at local schools and during the Open House are shown in the Education and Outreach focused video:


Two videos that highlight the science of the OTREC (international field campaign in Costa Rica) are now available on the NCAR Explorer Series Field Campaign website and on the OTREC YouTube playlist More videos are in progress and will be added in the future. The Introduction to OTREC videos has been viewed by 324 people on YouTube and Twitter.

Collaboration with UCAR SciEd

The E&O team in collaboration with UCAR SciEd completed a travelling climate exhibit “Real People, Real Climate, Real Changes” and was installed at the Boulder Public Library from September 27th to November 15th, 2019.

We are in the process of creating an exhibit for the public at the NCAR Mesa Lab museum lobby which will highlight field campaigns funded by the National Science Foundation.

Teaching guides are being created in collaboration with SciEd to supplement the NCAR Explorer Series field campaign videos.

A survey for the general public was created for the NCAR Explorer Series, which includes lectures, videos, and events. These surveys will be used to identify the impact these lectures have in increasing the interest in the Earth and related sciences.

Bilingual science communication

Bilingual (Spanish-English) efforts continued into this fiscal year.  On April 30, 2019, we published a paper regarding bilingual science communication in the Geosciences in the Journal of Geoscience Education “Bilingual science communication: A call for a geoscience community of practice.” The paper is  and can be found on this website.

Spanish materials were created for the RELAMPAGO and OTREC field campaigns. These included: bilingual flyers and brochures; Spanish presentations in the classroom; Spanish presentations during Open Houses. 

Through presentations at conferences like the American Geophysical Union conference and the American Meteorological Society meeting, we are working on an effort to foster a bilingual science community of practice.